There are those who employ Hygienic care who have generally acquired the idea in some way that health is to be restored through some kind of experience that has received the technical appellation of crisis. So crises have come to be regarded not only as an essential concomitant of care, but often as the object of it and, hence, care is pursued in these instances with the production of crises as the desired end, never doubting that this is the most feasible way of acquiring health.
Many Hygienists early questioned the validity of this plan of care and many of them, by the most acute analysis, showed that crises often have but an obscure connection with the causes of the patient's suffering. They said that the desire for crises is the result of false education, in which the profound virtues of drugs continue their hold upon the mind. The effects of drugs are to occasion disturbance, disease and a pathological state. The patient suffers an "operation" and the bettered condition that is supposed to follow is attributed to the effects of the drugs rather than to the continuance of the causes of life. One great error of the allopaths was that of converting the stomach and bowels into "critical organs," thus trying by violence to force a crisis upon one organ and compel it to carry off all the effete matter of the whole system. Carrying this thought over into the field of Hygiene, the mind of the uninstructed patient is intent on some important and new manifestation rather than on trying to secure the ordered harmony of the body by an insensible progression similar to that by which it was lost.
The doctrine of crisis (that disease ends by crisis) is attributed to the legendary Hippocratis. Whoever may have been the authors of the ancient writings known as the Hippocratic Corpus, the doctrine is found in them. It would seem to have been applied largely, if not wholly, to acute disease; but when it was adopted by the Priessnitzian wash women, it was applied primarily to chronic disease. The crisis (not one but several) became essential to recovery from chronic disease and the watercure practitioners were very proud of their abilities to produce crises. For convenience of description, crises were divided into acute and sub-acute forms. Acute crises consist of febrile symptoms such as lassitude, fever, headache, chilliness and pain in various parts of the body, or increased discharges at some outlet of the body. When these symptoms develop, it is supposed that disease is in some way deported through the system, either through avenues previously opened or some new one.
The second form of crisis consists of various types of skin disease, such as boils, pustules, rashes, ringworms and efflorescences of varied forms. The appearance of such symptoms was regarded as signifying a change of the feelings of the patient, especially with the effects of the irritant applications of drugs. Similar symptoms constitute the effects of drugs when administered with therapeutic intention and, so, the only principle involved is the choice of means whereby they are to be produced--that is, either a perturbed state of the physiological system which has been produced by drugs or by some other means of disturbing the vital functions in an unnatural way. But when similar symptoms develop from unknown causes or by accident, their occurrence is considered a grave matter, most imperiously demanding medical interferance. The crisis is now regarded, and rightly, as a pathological condition or disease.
Thus it seemed to the Hygienist to be only relatively, and in a sense fulfilled by acute disease, that crises could be regarded as advantageous. They represent merely the best the organism can do under the impairing circumstances that have been imposed upon it and these conditions are never to be tolerated when we are aware of their existence and much less are they to be sought by artificial means. Under compulsion, the ordinary faculty inherent in the system becomes conservative and develops such unusual action as will tend to restore the lost physiological balance. The occasion of such tumultuous action is to be avoided and the action not to be sought. Though the two may end in harmony, we cannot regard it but as the result of an evil to be guarded against, and its occurrence is generally attributable to some unwitting mistake or accident that ought to have been avoided. Why, then, should we endeavor to produce a state of acute disease in trying to remedy chronic disease that at other times we ought to avoid. Dr. Taylor, discussing this very subject, said: "I have yet to find a case where it was really necessary to become sick in this manner in order to get well." He added: "Health, which is balance, can never hang upon such contingencies. The chronic invalid still lingers on through all the trials of his constitution, a martar to the conjoint folly of himself and his prescriber." He gave it as his opinion, without implying the existence of sinister motives on the part of others, that the stay of invalids in many institutions is often unnecessarily and tediously prolonged because of the pursuit of crises. He said that the credulous and unfortunate patient, frequently disappointed to find that the crisis, the sign of his deliverance, is but the seal of a new extension of his enthralment.
It was the conception of many Hygienists that the idea that serves as the true basis of the program of restoring health is radically different from that which seeks deliberately to produce crises. The sensibilities and powers of the living organism do not require to be wrought upon in certain cases, nor in any case by causes of extraordinary power, differing totally from the fixed conditions upon which vital activities depend. In health, the congeries of vital parts of which the organism is composed act in harmony; this harmony is not to be restored by violence when lost. In the light of Hygiene, the restoration of the adjusting powers are not promoted by disturbing causes, derived from whatever source. The chief object of remedial care should be rather to restore the disturbed harmony of consensual parts. The conditions of this harmony or health are founded in nature and are not subject to the fitful variations that our ignorance or perversity respecting these matters would seem to imply. Hygiene, theoretically at least, interdicts disturbing causes, derived from whatever source. The resources of the prescriber are limited to just those principles and conditions as together evolve life and not sickness, only in some needful variations of their proportions. It fritters away none of the precious vital capacities for insignificant or inappropriate or useless purposes. It merely affords the proper scope and just direction while the obstacles that would circumvent the desired object are removed and health is silently and unostentatiously restored.